1. Technology & Innovation

Survey:  US Workers Fear Technology Will Make Them Obsolete

Gallup is out with a new survey saying that “22% of US workers worry technology will make job obsolete,” a number that is up seven points in two years.

Here’s how Gallup frames the increased concerns:

“The recent rise in people’s concern about their job becoming obsolete is owing almost entirely to college-educated workers, among whom the percentage worried has jumped from 8% to 20%. At the same time, worry among workers without a college degree is virtually unchanged at 24%. As a result, whereas non-college-educated workers were previously much more concerned about technological replacement than college-educated workers, these groups now express similar levels of concern.

“Concern about technology making one’s job obsolete is also up more among younger than older workers, widening the generational gap evident in 2021. It has also increased more among those making less than $100,000 than those earning $100,000 or more.”

The survey results continue:

“Although more workers than before may be looking over their shoulders at artificial intelligence and other technological advancements, a reduction in benefits remains their most common job-related concern of the six Gallup tracks. Nearly a third (31%) say they are worried they could lose benefits in the near future. The next-most-common job worry, cited by 24%, is having their wages reduced.

“A cluster of risks are worrisome to roughly one in five workers. In addition to being replaced by technology (22%), this includes being laid off (20%) and having their hours cut back (19%). The least worrisome risk to workers is having their job moved overseas (7%).”

KC’s View:

It isn’t a big leap to suggest that one of the things driving these concerns is all the publicity being given to AI.  

I was just reading some comments from Adam Selipsky, CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), in which he said that “artificial intelligence is sure to spark a ‘reinvention…for almost every application’ that hundreds of thousands of Amazon Web Services customers run.”  Those are kind of sentiments that tend to worry people – there is a sense that this is a runaway technology that is almost certain to cost people jobs and impact their future.

It is a simplistic way to look at it, I suppose, and the kind of thing that only someone close to the end of their career than the beginning might say,  but I’ve always felt that it is critical for folks to adapt.  Develop an expertise or talent that AI or other technologies cannot replicate.  It is a corollary to the idea that the best way to compete is to offer products and services that the competition does not or cannot.

I’ll follow Jimmy Buffett’s directive on this one, from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes:”

Yesterday’s over my shoulder, so I can’t look back for too long.

There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can’t go wrong.”

Looking backward almost certainly can’t get you anywhere.

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